by Alyssa Handel
Nothing brings Bible stories to life like seeing firsthand evidence of Creation and the Flood. For 13 Cedarville University students and one expert geology professor, no setting was more telling than their cavernous classroom among the National Parks of five Southwest states.
Stopping first at Fossil Butte National Monument in Wyoming, the group enjoyed a full itinerary. Their two-week hike took them through some of the nation’s finest monuments and parks: Black Canyon, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches.
“One of my hopes for this [Geology of the National Parks] class is that each student will gain a greater appreciation for geology and the world God has created,” said Dr. John Whitmore, associate professor of geology at Cedarville. “It is my hope that they will be able to understand rocks better, and when they see a vast expanse, lots of sedimentary rocks, or see a huge canyon, they’ll have a better perspective on how that formed and not only how it formed but how it formed within a biblical timeframe.”
As one of few geologists to claim a literal six-day creation, Whitmore has dedicated his life to the study of geology from a biblical perspective and delights in sharing that perspective with his students. Whitmore’s extensive work in the geology field includes guest lecturing, editing scientific publications, writing articles for publications, and even authoring an adventure book about dinosaurs.
Kristine McGunnigal, a junior, had always been taught from an evolutionist’s perspective – that rocks were deposited after millions of years and erosion occurred over long periods of time. “It was so neat to put it all together,” she shared. “So often you are taught different views from the Bible and different views from science. I grew up in a public high school and so I was brought up on the evolutionist perspective of science. … It’s good to hear a more accurate timeline.”
Most evolutionists would explain the formation of something like the Grand Canyon as a series of events spanning 5.5 million years – earthquakes, bulging rivers, and erosive power intense enough to carve the Grand Canyon. “Neither creationists nor evolutionists can prove something like that. That’s why I present both sides of the story, including what an evolutionist would argue. I feel that scientific evidence is on the side of the creationist, but I’m not shy about presenting both sides of the story,” Whitmore challenged.
And yet, as the students witnessed, the scientific support for the creationist perspective is overwhelming. Whitmore pointed out, “Ken Ham [CEO of Answers in Genesis] is fond of saying that if the Global Flood were true we should find millions of dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth, and that’s exactly what we find! High up in the rocks of the Grand Canyon, more than a mile above sea level, we find tremendous layers of marine sedimentary rock with marine fossils encased inside of them, which explains the flood very nicely.”
Rebekah Adams, a junior, made a similar connection. “I think the main thing I realized was we’ve heard all these Bible stories before, but never had I really gotten to see the effects of them, especially talking about the Flood and looking at the Grand Canyon. When we looked at them as a result of God’s judgment on mankind, that really hit me! And just looking at how the Bible talks about geology in so many areas, it seems science is just catching up to the Bible and the Bible has already been there.”
The trip also enlightened the students about the existence of dinosaurs. Stopping at Dinosaur National Monument, the group hiked up a path to view a mountainside where dinosaur fossils were embedded in the cliff.
“It was amazing just to be able to run my finger along dinosaur fossils that were thousands of years old. We saw one dinosaur femur that was at least three times the thickness of my femur,” recalled Ann Marie Haug, a junior. “As we sat up there looking at these fossils, Dr. Whitmore talked to us about dinosaurs, especially the dinosaurs mentioned in Job 40. ... As he talked about dinosaurs that grew to be 150 feet long, it made me realize that sometimes I make God fit a mold that I have designed for Him, but the God we serve is so big, so creative, and so powerful. That moment on the trip was like an ‘aha’ moment for me. It was when I realized that the God that was then is the same God that is now.”
For Whitmore, the trip was also an opportunity to expand on his six-year research project with the Institute for Creation Research, detailing how Coconino sandstone was made and under what kind of conditions, presumably Noah’s flood. Several students were able to assist him with the research.
“I thought it was amazing to study under someone who had so much knowledge and is so well-known among geologists,” said Amy Wright, a senior. “Now I can look at [rocks] and see how they prove the Bible, and it all made more sense.”
Read a blog and view pictures of the trip!